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Zappa. A Biography Miles, Barry.
Grove Press, USA
ISBN: 080211783X
Pages: 320
Language: English Category: About


  Editor synopsis

 Barry Miles knew Frank Zappa intimately and was present at the recording of some of his most important albums. This sparkling biography brings the Zappa the musician and composer, Zappa the controversialist and Zappa the family man (despite his love of groupies, he was married for more than 30 years) together for the first time. Barry Miles' biography follows Zappa from his sickly Italian-American childhood in the 1940s (when his father, Frank senior, worked for the US military and was used to test the efficacy of new biological warfare agents) to his death from cancer in the 1990s. Miles shows how Zappa's goal had been to become a classical composer, until he realised that he would starve to death pursuing this ambition in post-war America. In an effort to make music people would actually listen to, in the mid-1960s he joined a noisy new band called 'The Mothers of Invention'. Before long, Zappa had taken over as singer, song writer and lead guitarist and together they exploded on to the San Francisco freak scene. Following the release of recordings such as Freak Out, Absolutely Free, We're Only In It For the Money and Hot Rats, Zappa's reputation in the United States and in Europe, especially the UK, Germany and Holland, took off. When the Berlin wall fell, Frank was surprised to learn that his extravagant music embodied sixties liberty for a generation of dissidents Berlin wall fell, Frank was surprised to learn that his extravagant music embodied sixties liberty for a generation of dissidents (including Vaclav Havel, who invited Zappa to be his minister for culture). Frank Zappa is an authoritative and hugely enjoyable portrait of a singular man and a vivid evocation of the West Coast scene.


From: Leonard Los
  Interesting Revelations In Miles Biography

 Concerning the masters of the MGM recordings: Zappa claimed the masters were unusable, though the book states Zappa usually always filed a "first generation" safety copy of his recordings.

 Page 190 "Like to hear "Absolutely Free" without the vocal dubs?"

 This brought up the question of the added bass and drum tracks for I assume "WOIIFTM" and "Ruben". If this is true, what happened to these safty copies???

 It also states in the book about the $500 worth of rented percussion equipment that Laurentide Finance wanted to repocess: Page109 states that Laurentide was after Jimmy Carl Black's drum set.

 This suposedly confirms a recent post where someone in the NG said that's about all he heard on "Monster Magnet"

 This book has a lot of insight, IMO, surely far superior to "The Real Frank Zappa Book"

 Some nice photos here, but I wish there could of been more. especially of the early years The New York, Strip period.

From: Stu Mark

 My copy of "Zappa: A Biography" by Barry Miles just arrived... So far it appears to be well-written. Anyone want to borrow my copy when I'm done?

From: Pat Buzby (

  I browsed this in a bookstore today and spotted a reference to "Patrick O'Hare," a rather dumb interpretation of "Fine Girl" and a suggestion that Arthur Barrow didn't know that "My Sharona" came out after WOIIFTM (?!?). So I think I'll pass.


From: Robert Jaz (Providence, RI United States)

  Well, I'm glad I didn't rush right out and buy this by mail - I was pretty excited to first see it on display at a bookstore and would have bought it then, but upon reading several chapters and parts of the book I was really put off by it. First off I enjoy celebrating the life of this genius, but a large later portion of the book deals with Frank's illness (in sad detail) and it just comes off as a bummer instead of the joy you get from Frank's work. Don't get me wrong, I love bios, but when it comes to Frank, you're much better off getting his quasi-autobiography, 'The Real Frank Zappa Book' - which, while it does not cover the latter years of Frank's life, and is not your typical autobiography, it's filled with his thought, wisdom, gripes, creativity and insight into the man as artist. It's also funny as hell!! As far as the chronological data of album releases etc. there's way better sources for getting this info, then from this book. First and formost, to really get into Frank Zappa's head, just start at the beginning and purchase his early albums with the Mothers of Invention, from there you'll no doubt be hooked and can follow his later releases as you choose. Plain and simple: this book is not an interesting, fun, avant garde nor Zappaesque book.

From: B. Seigal (La Mesa, CA United States)

  This book had more glaring errors than perhaps any other I've ever read. Too many misspellings (inconsistent ones at that; sometimes the author gets it right, other times he doesn't, often in the same paragraph!) of crucial names and song titles, plus myriad typos and grammatical errors are greviously distracting; both the author and editors did an unbelievably sloppy, amatuerish job here. Precious little light is shed on the compliacted relationships he had with such central figures as Herb Cohen, Captain Beefheart, Ray Collins, Don Preston, Jimmy Carl Black, etc. Although the book offers a few fascinating insights into Zappa's history, character and relationships with family and fans, crucial analysis and discussion of classic Zappa/Mothers albums are given short shrift at the expense of his later, grandiose (and ultimately far less important) symphonic and computerized work. The definitive Zappa bio has yet to be written; avoid this second-rate book.

From: R. Moses (New Hampshire)

  If you enjoy blatant inaccuracies any marginally informed Zappa fan would gasp over, buy this book. If you enjoy rampant, baseless speculation that leads to preposterous conclusions no reputable author would dare assert, buy this book. If you've got a wobbly coffee table that needs a leg supported, perhaps, this is definitely the book for you. Otherwise, avoid this one. Almost any other Zappa book would be preferable.

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